THR's Emmy Roundtable: Drama Actresses

8:00 AM PST 05/30/2012 by Stacey Wilson, Matthew Belloni
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Joe Pugliese

THR listens in as the season’s top contenders tackle nudity, bad auditions, breastfeeding on set and the fear of kissing Brad Pitt.

THR: What's the biggest dispute you've had on your show?

Margulies: As much as I'd like to pretend it's an ensemble, it's not. It's The Good Wife, and if the good wife goes down, there's no show! (Laughter.) My problem is, I'm not a squeaky wheel. I'm a worker; I can wait tables. So I have this idea that I'm one of the crew. But I have to be there two hours before the crew gets there and then work two hours when everyone goes home.

Sedgwick: And be in front of the camera and look good.

Margulies: Yes. So my biggest challenge has been to say, "Guys, guess what? I can't be in the background of so-and-so's scene." That would give me two hours with my kid. Or, how about an hour to sleep, go to the gym. Or learn a line or two. I have to prepare and have a life. Sitting in a court scene for 14 hours without a line … is craziness. So they're going to work on that.

THR: Have your Good Wife showrunners, Robert and Michelle King, been receptive?

Margulies: They're incredibly receptive. At one point this year, I was in all these court scenes and I hadn't gotten the next script. I looked at the schedule and I was in every single scene. It was 11 o'clock at night and I just e-mailed everyone and I said, "How about we call an insurance day because … this is inhuman." And then Robert was like, "We're going to write you out of this scene and that."

Danes: It is hugely about communication. I think they just don't know.

Sedgwick: And if you keep doing it, then they start thinking, "Oh, you can do it, and it's easy."

Enos: That's right.

Danes: But you have to recognize what a valuable challenge is. You're indulging your neurosis about being a "good girl" or something.

Margulies: I think that's exactly it. And I hate to say it turns into a [gender] issue, but being a female …

Sedgwick: Do it! I'm right there with you, girl.

Margulies: Do you know what I mean though? Being female and asking for what you need.

Danes: We are very accommodating, typically.

Margulies: Because we don't want to be thought of as bitches or as incapable. "No I can do this! I can be a mother!" Then you show up and you start to …

Sedgwick: Unravel.

Danes: And they're not doing it to punish you, they're doing it out of ignorance. You need to make a case. "If you give me this extra time, I will perform that much better when you really need me."

Margulies: I think television writers have the hardest job in the business.

THR: Each season, writers give certain actors more or less screen time. Do you make suggestions to them on how to use you?

Jones: We don't ask Matt for anything. He's extremely good at what he does, and it would be foolish of me to suggest anything. This season, I was lucky to be in four episodes because I was happy that he wrote a storyline for my character where I didn't need to be there every day. I was struggling as a single mom with a new baby; I didn't know what I was doing. He likes to give everyone sort of an arc, and you might not be there. He also likes to mess with the audience a bit. There's only been one time where I've ever questioned anything he's ever done.

THR: When was that?

Jones: Betty, at the end of season two, goes to a bar and winds up sleeping with a random guy. I didn't disagree with it; I just wanted to understand the motivation. Is it revenge? And he explained to me that I needed to stop thinking. Betty is a sexual person -- she gets drunk and she gets laid. That's it. When it was explained that way, I was like, "OK." That's one of the beautiful things about Mad Men; we're not given any time to think.

THR: Kyra, The Closer is wrapping up this summer. What are you most looking forward to in this next phase of your career?

Sedgwick: I really want to do more films. I would like to do other characters for a shorter amount of time. But the TV experience was amazing, and it afforded me the experience of delving into a character and growing with her. There's no other venue that you can experience that as an actor. It's deep and cathartic. But I would like to do shorter runs and do a play if the right one came along.

Danes: There are so many different ways to get naked! (Laughter.)

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